THE TRANSIENT NATURE OF FREELANCING CAN COME IN HANDY, BUT IT’S IMPORTANT TO BE AWARE OF CLIENTS’ POTENTIAL MISGIVINGS.
It’s common for full-time workers to weight the pros and cons of a freelance life before making a career change. Of course, they could just look at the data we have. A majority of freelancers say they wouldn’t return to full-time work for any reason. That doesn’t necessarily quell the minds of nervous full-timers, who should still spend time researching and assessing what it is they actually want. One factor full-timers (and some freelancers) often forget to consider is that freelancing is still on the verge of becoming mainstream. This means there are plenty of clients for whom freelancing doesn’t quite sit right. These clients can be shown all the favorable data in the world and countless examples of freelance success, yet still be hesitant. The full-scale adoption of freelance will only occur when the concept of a more contingent and dynamic workforce is accepted into the hearts and minds of business owners. Keep in mind that your success and struggles as a freelancer may hinge on more than your personal merit, but on your ability to manage the expectations of clients.
After working in the full-time world for a while, new freelancers are often bewildered by the speed at which a client will hire them to freelance. This faster process is due to the fact that a freelancer is not an essential part of a company the same way a full-time worker is. Embrace this idea, it’s a good thing. Often a project will pop up that a client just has no time to do. They need someone as quick as possible. A lot of the contingent work that clients need done require a very fast turnaround, and because there aren’t loads of paperwork, benefits, or vacation times to consider, a client might write a job posting and accept a freelancer within hours of each other. In this case, a freelancer has a lot of leverage. The client doesn’t want to spend very much time looking for or haggling with a candidate and will most likely give the freelancer the rate they desire. This is a key advantage as a freelancer, and it behooves us, especially early on in our careers, to go for jobs that need to be filled ASAP.
As a remote worker you may think “it shouldn’t matter where or when I do my work as long it gets done.” It does matter. Clients can understandably feel nervous about hiring someone who not only won’t be working near them, but could be halfway across the world. This is not to say you shouldn’t work from anywhere you want, you absolutely should, but you need to be upfront with your clients about your working/living situation. If work gets sent to a client at an odd time, that might be because you’re currently in Bali. If you won’t’ have the best phone services for a few days that might be because you’re going camping. Freelancers may hesitate to be this honest with clients because it could make a client second guess a Freelancer’s commitment. But freelancers actually need to be more upfront with clients than employees do. A client can be far more certain of an employee’s commitment because they’re generally in the same place every day, doing the same work, during the same hours. Freelancers need to do the work of convincing clients of their obligation to the job. The way to do that is honesty. There is no better way to gain trust. Being honest with a client shows your respect and confidence in them. The same will be reciprocated back to you.
DIME A DOZEN
What if you find a client that is simply too demanding of you as a freelancer? They can’t control you the same way they would an employee, so they don’t trust you. Well, it’s easy to just say: “avoid these people.” For one, we can’t always tell how a client is going to act before we take a job, and two, not everyone is in the position to be picky.
There are some things freelancers will only learn through experience. The longer you freelance the better you will get at assessing the character of a client right up front. Is your radar full-proof? Of course not, but your quality client hit rate will certainly go up. The other thing you will understand the longer you freelance is clients are a dime a dozen. That may not be the nicest way to look at it, but that’s the way clients often think of you. This is a fear new freelancers tend to have, the idea that they’re disposable. Because of the nature of freelance work, it can make what we do feel less valuable. Some companies might think, “well if you don’t like my offer I can find 10 people just like you.” Well guess what? The same can be said of any client. You should always work hard for your clients, but the truth is, freelance work comes and goes pretty quick. That’s the gig. Once you’ve become comfortable with that idea, you can use it to your advantage. The minute your radar senses a bad client, you should feel comfortable moving on.
Freelancing, at its core, is about adaptability and change. For stability addicts like employers, this can be difficult to cope with, but we wouldn’t be witnessing the freelance revolution we are if freelancing didn’t work really well. As long you're aware of the misgiving clients have about contingent work, you’ll be able to navigate them to your success.